Fiddlin' John Carson

Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 7

  • AllMusic Rating
    9
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

Just about every record ever cut by Fiddlin' John Carson and his daughter Rosa Lee (as Moonshine Kate) were reissued by Document in seven volumes near the close of the '90s. Naturally, some folks might feel a bit intimidated by that much material and wonder which disc to choose. On the level, volumes one, two, four, and six are recommendable as they each contain a decent number of well-played selections in fairly good condition. On the downside, the third volume has an unusually large number of excessively scratchy recordings, and number five contains maybe a few too many spoken comedy sketches for the common good. This leaves volume seven, which could stand by itself as perhaps the best choice of all. It opens with a pair of sides by Moonshine Kate & Her Pals, followed by her solo performance of "My Man's a Jolly Railroad Man" and a duet with dad called "I Intend to Make Heaven My Home." When this collection was assembled, the producers were unable to locate a copy of Kate's "The Brave Soldier" b/w "Texas Bound." These sides, which were cut in Atlanta in December 1930 and October 1931, turned out to be the very last Okeh records that either Carson would make. Not exactly a surprising development, given the fact that Fiddlin' John had been grinding out Okehs since 1923, and quite often recording the same song under several different titles.

The remainder of the Carson discography comes from two day's worth of activity which took place at the end of February 1934 in Camden, NJ, probably in the same church-made-over-into-a-recording-studio where Victor's engineers had recorded Fats Waller's hot pipe organ solos in 1926 and 1927. Carson introduces all but two of his Victor/Bluebird records with the words "This is old Fiddlin' John himself now, with Moonshine Kate -- look out, here she comes." He deviates slightly from this formula at the beginning of two duets by Kate and Marion Peanut Brown. "Do You Ever Think of Me?" is a slightly seasick handling of a love ballad garnished with a little bit of yodeling, and "Stockade Blues" opens with humorous dialogue during which Peanut proclaims "I ain't drunk, I'm just lazy". Even with essentially the same spoken intro on every side, Carson's Bluebirds amount to some of the best music he ever managed to weasel into the grooves of a stack of 78 rpm phonograph records. Never mind the fact that many of these songs already existed in several previous versions on Okeh, with the exception of "The Storm That Struck Miami," the sound quality is quite good, the playing is uniformly excellent, and the chemistry between the Carsons, Peanut, and banjoist Bill Willard is about as cohesive as anybody could ask for, especially on "Papa's Billy Goat," "When the Saints Go Marching In," and "Since She Took My Liquor from Me." Naturally, the lyrics to "The New Comin' ‘Round the Mountain" are altered to give the impression that the female in question will be hauling a big cargo of bottled spirits while inebriated and getting more so by the minute.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
3:07
2
3:07
3
3:14
4
3:03
5 3:03
6
2:59
7
2:56
8
3:07
9
3:05
10
3:04
11
3:03
12 3:06
13
2:54
14 2:54
15
2:55
16
3:06
17
2:51
18
3:00
19 2:48
20
3:14
21
2:52
22
2:58
23
2:48
24
2:47
blue highlight denotes track pick